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Why blockchain attracts the best and worst businesspeople

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin speaks to Trading Day

Jack Derwin

Digital Journalist, Your Money

After the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies spiked last week, there’s been renewed interest in the technology and its future applications.

Read: What are cryptocurrencies and is the craze over?

But while bitcoin may steal the lion share of headlines in the mainstream media, it is just one cryptocurrency.

Ethereum is another and the second-largest crypto by market capitalisation.

Unlike bitcoin, however, ethereum is also used for smart contracts, allowing exchanges of different assets between different parties using the underlying blockchain technology.

As its community of developers gather in Sydney for EDCON, their annual conference, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin spoke to Trading Day about the space.

“The blockchain space is very unique in that it has among the most kind-hearted and idealistic people you’ll ever meet and it also has scammiest [sic] people you’ll ever meet, all in one industry,” Buterin said.

While that industry continues to struggle with the issue of trust, it is making strides in the right direction, according to Buterin.

That could help revolutionise entire industries, not least of which would be the global financial system.

By potentially cutting out middlemen such as banks for example, blockchain technology is thought to be able to reduce both the time require for as well as the cost of transactions.

It could also limit fraudulent behaviour but isn’t without its obstacles in getting the development right.

“Blockchain applications, depending on how you build them, can either be more compliant than anything that exists or less compliant because if you design them in the wrong way then you have people’s private information that gets put on this immutable record that pretty much anyone can download,” Buterin explained.

The key instead is ensuring the right design protects users’ data or even eradicates data vulnerabilities entirely.

If issues of security, scalability and usability are fixed as technology improves, Buterin said he believes blockchain adoption by financial services and others will be swift.

“If they do get solved then it actually makes sense to start pushing large sets of these records onto blockchain using it to authenticate various things going through the supply chain. We would expect the industry to integrate much more with the global economy,” he said.

“There are definitely a lot of people who think that real applications that hit the mainstream are going to be coming very soon.”

Watch the full interview above as Buterin discusses the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

Read more: Can bitcoin really be compared to gold?
More: Is the cryptocurrency craze over?
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